The Constant Gardener

[“The Constant Gardener” poster art] Ah, a lovely example of Good Filmmaking. See it if you’re in the mood for a meatier film that might make you think.

It is well shot, acted, directed, scripted. Some of the cinematography (it takes place in London and Kenya) is drop-dead gorgeous. It tackles important issues (corruption by Big Pharm in third world countries). The story is compelling.

What surpised me slightly is that it’s based on a John LeCarré novel. I can’t read John LeCarré. His books bore me to tears, and I need graph paper to keep up with the plot. (Okay, I’ve read exactly one John LeCarré novel, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, but that was enough for me. By the end, and 100 characters, 1000 inconsequential conversations and 20 drab raincoats later I still wasn’t sure what was supposed to have happened, except that someone had apparently double-crossed someone else.)

This film is initially a little confusing. It’s told out-of-order, and the editing doesn’t tell you that, initially. Also, initially, Ralph Fiennes’ character is irritatingly goofy—kind of a shyer Tony Blair, all smiles and awkward looks. And if you don’t like kooky, anti-authoritarian Kate Winslet –style characters, you probably won’t like Rachel Weisz’s Tessa, (but that’s okay because she gets killed by the pharmaceutical companies right near the start).

The story is Justin’s (Ralph Fiennes’) search for the truth about his wife’s murder, but the way it’s told, with constant flashbacks, makes her character seem constantly present. It’s a nice way of handling it.

Anyway, not a cheery popcorn movie, but well-told and well worth watching.

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